/ Adventure Travel
adventure — By Vawn on November 23, 2009 at 10:46 am
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Exploring Nicaragua’s past in León’s museums

Heroes and Martrys Museum

Heroes and Martyrs Museum

Though Nicaragua is no longer synonymous with Contra rebels and guerilla warfare, its past is very much a part of its present identity. And León, in particular, is where you’ll get a palpable sense of this identity.

While Managua is Nicaragua’s largest city, León is the political, intellectual and cultural capital, where much of the fighting took place during the Sandinista revolution. The war has been over for more than a decade, but around town you’ll see cathedrals littered with bullet holes and politicized graffiti. And there are a couple of interesting, if not bizarre, attractions to check out, which will give you an immediate sense of the country’s turbulent history.

Check out the Heroes and Martyrs Museum (also referred to as the Museum of the Revolution), which is run by mothers of martyrs who died during the revolution. It’s nothing fancy – just two rooms, filled with fading photographs, posters, newspaper clippings and memorabilia. The curators run this on a limited budget.

Informational placards are in Spanish. But even if your knowledge of the Spanish language is limited to “hola” and “cerveza,” it’s still worthwhile. This is the story of the war, told in pictures. Or, you can hire an English-speaking guide at a local tour operator to explain these pictures in more detail.

Located at 1a Calle NE, it’s open 7am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday, with a US$1 recommended donation.

Then there’s the Museum of Traditions and Legends, located in a building that was once the infamous Prison 21, where prisoners were tortured by the National Guard during the Somoza regime. Now it’s filled with paper-mache puppets depicting Nicaraguan fables, legends and folk tales passed down from generation to generation – including the golden crocodile, the dancing giant and the witch-pig. This is set against a backdrop of graphic murals on the walls showing how prisoners were once brutally tortured here.

It’s downright creepy, but it’s not a place you’ll soon forget. History is literally painted on the walls.

The museum is located three blocks south of the central park, in front of San Sebastián church, and is open Tuesday to Saturday from 8am to 5pm and Sunday from 8am to 12pm (but closed for lunch). There is a small admission fee, and informational placards are in Spanish.

Photo Copyright @ 2009 VH Media

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